Operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, frequently report capacity using the binary interpretation of the prefixes, which results in a discrepancy between the disk manufacturer's stated capacity and what the system reports. The difference becomes much more noticeable in the multi-gigabyte range. For example, Microsoft's Windows 2000 reports disk capacity both in decimal to 12 or more significant digits and with binary prefixes to 3 significant digits. Thus a disk specified by a disk manufacturer as a 30 GB disk might have its capacity reported by Windows 2000 both as "30,065,098,568 bytes" and "28.0 GB." The disk manufacturer used the SI definition of "giga," 109. However utilities provided by Windows define a gigabyte as 230, or 1,073,741,824, bytes, so the reported capacity of the disk will be closer to 28.0 GB. For this reason, many utilities that report capacity have begun to use the aforementioned IEC standard binary prefixes (e.g. KiB, MiB, GiB) since their definitions are unambiguous.
Some people mistakenly attribute the discrepancy in reported and specified capacities to reserved space used for file system and partition accounting information. However, for large (several GiB) filesystems, this data rarely occupies more than a few MiB, and therefore cannot possibly account for the apparent "loss" of tens of GBs.